A Look Inside Canon

Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai detailed some of the steps Canon is taking to achieve the number one position in all of its core businesses.

The group of U.S. editors and analysts at Canon's Tokyo headquarters with Mr. Fujio Mitarai (center).

Canon’s manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, employs 8,594 workers and produces between between 700 and 1,000 imageRUNNERs a day.

Masaki Nakaoka, senior managing director and chief executive of Canon's Office Imaging Products Operations.

Canon Inc.'s headquarters facility in Tokyo.

Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai addresses the group of editors and analysts through a translator.

IPG got a rare opportunity to visit Canon's Tokyo headquarters, see some up-and-coming technologies and watch new imageRUNNERs being assembled.

The sea of blue caps seemed to stretch to the horizon. Beneath each one of them, a Chinese worker quietly, meticulously popped a paper roller or other part into place—parts that, when fully assembled, would form a Canon image­RUNNER ADVANC­E printer.

That was the scene that greeted IPG and a small group of U.S. editors and analysts last month when they toured Canon’s largest MFD manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, more than an hour west of Shanghai. It was the second stop on an exclusive tour of Canon’s operations in the Far East, which included a visit to Canon Inc.’s Tokyo headquarters. There, they met with several Canon executives, including Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai, to learn more about Canon’s global strategy.

Seeing imageRUNNERs being built at the Suzhou manufacturing facility, though, was the most impressive part of the trip. The vast 188,368-square-foot building was filled with hundreds of employees, some working side by side, others in stations 10 or 15 feet apart. They worked silently, occasionally looking up at the small group of visitors moving through their plant, while automated delivery vehicles crept slowly down the aisles, bringing parts (and keeping those visitors on their toes).

The manufacturing plant is part of a 3,659,730-square-foot campus that employs 8,594 workers in Suzhou, a city of more than 4 million, laced with picturesque canals and famous for its classical gardens. Chairman and CEO Kazunori Katayama explained that nearly all of the parts for the imageRUNNERs are manufactured on site (drums and toners excluded). He pointed out the large injection molding machines used to create plastic molded parts for the machines, such as paper trays and the machines’ exteriors. Making the parts in-house, he said, assures tighter quality control and saves money, since Canon avoids paying transportation costs for delivery of parts.

Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.

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